School start times bill signed

School buses leave West Port High School in Ocala, Fla. after the last bell on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.

Home » Education
Posted May 15, 2023 |

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill that will lead to many high-school students having later school start times in the future.

Lawmakers passed the bill (HB 733) during the legislative session that ended last week. It will prevent middle schools from beginning the “instructional day” earlier than 8 a.m., while high schools will be barred from starting the school day before 8:30 a.m.

The start times will be required to take effect by July 2026, giving school districts three years to develop plans. About 48 percent of Florida’s public high schools start school before 7:30 a.m., according to the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.

Another 19 percent of high schools start between 7:30 a.m. and 7:59 a.m. Supporters of the bill have pointed to studies that say later start times would benefit high-school students.

“What we’re doing now (with earlier start times) is not what’s best for our kids, for the adolescents especially,” Senate bill sponsor Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, said during the session. “It’s the ‘how’ that can be the hard challenge and the logistics of that and how we make this happen.”

But the bill has led to concerns about issues such as student transportation and how working parents would be affected by later school start times.

In Marion County, the start times for middle and high schools during the 2022/23 year have been:

Belleview Middle 9:15 AM 3:45 PM
Dunnellon Middle 9:20 AM 3:50 PM
Fort King Middle 9:25 AM 3:50 PM
Fort McCoy K-8 7:45 AM 2:05 PM
Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks 7:55 AM 2:30 PM
Howard Middle 9:25 AM 3:40 PM
Lake Weir Middle 9:30 AM 4:00 PM
Liberty Middle 7:50 AM 2:10 PM
North Marion Middle 9:20 AM 3:50 PM
Osceola Middle 7:50 AM 2:05 PM
Belleview High 9:10 AM 3:25 PM
Dunnellon High 9:10 AM 3:40 PM
Forest High 8:30 AM 3:03 PM
Hillcrest 9:05 AM 3:00 PM
Lake Weir High 9:10 AM 3:40 PM
North Marion High 9:10 AM 3:25 PM
Marion Technical Institute 7:30 AM 2:00 PM
Vanguard High 8:35 AM 2:50 PM
West Port High 9:12 AM 3:40 PM
Marion Technical College 8:00 AM 10:00 PM

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